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No. 11 UConn Defeats Villanova 81–60

Ryan Sarbello
Junior guard Lucy Olsen scored 15 points in Villanova’s 81–60 loss to No. 11 UConn on Wednesday night at the Finn.

Villanova fell to Big East rival UConn 81–60 in front of a packed Finn on Wednesday night.

The defeat of the Wildcats allowed head coach Geno Auriemma’s Huskies to add to their undefeated conference record while advancing to 18–4 overall.

After the loss, Villanova now has a 6–4 Big East and 13–8 overall record.

“The energy in [the Finn] was great and we loved the support,” Olsen said.

Junior guards Lucy Olsen and Zanai Jones, along with freshman guard Maddie Webber fueled the Wildcat offense. Olsen led the team 15 points and three rebounds, followed by Jones with 14 points and four rebounds.

Webber, named last week’s Big East Rookie of the Week, collected eleven points and a pair of rebounds on the night. It was her third straight game scoring double-digits.

“[Webber] has shown great strides as a freshman and her confidence on the offensive end is one of her greatest strengths,” head coach Denise Dillon said. “I’m excited about her growth.”

The Wildcats closely trailed the Huskies throughout the first twenty minutes before a second-half downturn.

Olsen was the first to get on board with a layup shortly after jump ball. The teams competed in the opening minutes, and an Olsen three-pointer tied the score 7–7 four minutes into the game.

In the last minute of period one, a Jones bucket and a three-pointer from Webber put Villanova just a point behind, 16–17, going into the first break.

The ‘Cats continued to chase the Husky lead in the second quarter.

Shooting 53 percent in period two, the efficient UConn offense proved a challenge for Villanova to match. The Wildcats refused to concede, recording a 18–16 rebounding advantage in the first half.

An offensive burst from Olsen during the last sixty seconds before halftime helped push Villanova ahead by just one. Olsen knocked down a three-pointer and second-chance jumper to make the score 36–35.

However, the Huskies reclaimed their advantage with a pair of successful free-throws before the half.

After halftime, the Huskies started building a significant lead. Meanwhile, the Wildcats waned offensively, shooting just 5–13 across period three.

Starting midway through the third quarter, the Huskies went on a 10–0 run that surged them ahead 52–43.

After a more than four-minute Villanova scoring drought, junior guard Kaitlyn Orihel broke the UConn scoring streak with a three-pointer. However, the Huskies continued to hold onto their advantage, going into the fourth quarter ahead by ten.

Foul trouble also hurt the Wildcats, particularly in the second half. Villanova accumulated seven personal fouls in the final twenty minutes.

Dillon called a timeout as the deficit stretched to 15 with just above five minutes left to play.

“UConn just continued to do what they do and took advantage. We weren’t able to sustain what we showed in the first half,” Dillon said. “They made the adjustment at halftime to turn up the intensity and be more aggressive.”

Husky senior forward Aaliyah Edwards battered the Wildcat defense throughout the game, dropping 12 points in the second half and 22 on the night.

The Huskies solidified their victory in the final minutes, finishing with a 6–0 run across three minutes to surpass a 20-point advantage.

Villanova will be back in the Finn on Saturday, Feb. 3 for a matchup against Seton Hall (5–5 Big East, 13–8 overall). The Pirates are currently ranked seventh in the conference, while the Wildcats remain in fourth place.

Tip-off is set for 2 p.m.

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Katie Lewis
Katie Lewis, Co-Sports Editor
Katie Lewis is a sophomore from Miami, FL in her first year as Co-Sports Editor in 2024. From covering games to writing features and profiles, she loves to find the story behind Villanova sports. Pursuing her enthusiasm for writing and journalism in her studies at Villanova, Katie is double-majoring in English and Communication with concentrations in Journalism and Writing & Rhetoric. When Katie isn’t at Holy Grounds working on her next article, she enjoys playing tennis with Villanova’s club team.
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